AMSTERDAM, N.Y. (CBSNEWS.COM) – A ceremony for the victims of the limousine crash that killed 20 people ended with participants lifting candles above their heads to signal unity and perseverance. Over 1,000 people jammed a riverside park in Amsterdam, New York, for Monday night’s vigil as victims’ relatives tried to come to grips with the tragedy that happened as a group of friends and family were on their way to a 30th birthday party.
“Tears flowed freely and embraces wrapped tight, as 20 lives taken in one awful accident were honored,” reports CBS Albany, N.Y. affiliate WRGB-TV.
“Everybody knew somebody. Some knew a few, I knew just about everybody,” Chris Lanzi told the station.
The supersized limo ran a stop sign and hit a parked SUV on Saturday in Schoharie, N.Y., authorities said.
They’ve yet to say how fast the limo was going or determine why it failed to stop and sped off the road at the bottom of a long hill.
The 19-seat vehicle had at least some seat belts, but it was unclear whether anyone inside was wearing them, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt said.
The crash about 170 miles north of New York City came three years after another deadly stretch-limo wreck in New York state spurred calls for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to examine such vehicles’ safety. There is no evidence the state took any steps to do so.
Some relatives of the dead shed tears as local officials expressed solidarity with them.
U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, a Democrat from Amsterdam, told a crowd that spilled onto a bridge spanning the Mohawk River, “We are crushed with you, we are crushed for you.”